Calibration is the process by which instruments are compared to known "norms" to ensure that there is as little deviation as possible between the norm and the instrument being tested. The better the calibration, the better the instrument will perform and with the highest degree of accuracy.
The concept of calibration is important in ministry as well. The question is understanding what the norm is and how I can calibrate my actions against a proper understanding of the stated mission and guiding principles of the organization.
For instance, as a mission organization, we have a Central Ministry Focus to develop, empower and release healthy indigenous leaders. This is what we must do every day, all the time, wherever we work. As the senior leader, I championed this ministry focus and it was quickly adopted by our senior leadership and now by nearly everyone in our organization.
But, how do staff calibrate their ministries so that they are actually carrying out this mandate? While the concept seems fairly clear, how do I know when I am actually doing what the concept means?
This is where calibration comes in and it is important. It is coming to the best understanding of the central ministry focus as possible so that there is a high level of alignment across the organization because there is a common understanding.
This happens most directly when there is regular dialogue between myself and my senior leaders and then between my senior leaders and those in their areas of responsibility. It is ongoing dialogue, discussion and Socratic dialogue that helps to clarify meaning, intent, acceptable practices, focus and bring the organization into a common understanding (calibration).
Memo's and speeches do not get to calibration. They may be part of the process but the best calibration comes between a leader and those they lead in personal interaction, time together and lots of dialogue on key issues. There is no substitute for that time and discussion. That is one reason it is so important in team meetings to pick a topic that is central to the ministry they perform for discussion and dialogue - it helps calibrate the team.
Now in order to calibrate well, a leader must be clear on what the "norm" is. He or she must have great clarity on where they need to go and how they will get there. It is against that clarity that the discussion is focused and calibration is sought. Wise leaders provide maximum clarity to those they lead and then seek to calibrate the thinking and actions of their team or organization to be as close to the stated norm as possible. It happens through time and dialogue. It clarifies and focuses the team on the important things.